CIOs Must Get it Right on Day One

Dateline: June 21, 2013

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Transitions are part of the fabric of organizations.  Leaders move on and new leaders take over.  A recent Harvard Business Review article, It’s All About Day One,  by IMD Professors Michael Watkins and Suzanne de Janasz, and former Unilever executive Kees van der Graaf, explores the pivitol moment when the tone is set for the  leader’s tenure in that new role.

The appointment of a new leader is a defining moment for an organization. Leaders find transitions into new roles the most challenging times in their professional lives, when they either build credibility and create momentum or stumble and sow doubts about their effectiveness. Much consideration has therefore been given to how leaders should take charge in their early days. But far too little attention has been paid to how the organization should set them up for success as they enter their new roles.

It’s easy to see why. In making leadership appointments, companies invest most of their time, energy, and attention in choosing the right person for the job. Only secondarily (if at all) do decision makers consider what message the appointment will send (or should send) to the organization and how it will affect those passed over and those who must now work with the new boss. But failure to announce appointments in the right way can undo all the work that went into the selection and hobble even the strongest leader from the start.

The authors suggest,

Responsibility for making appointments in the right way rests with the leader who made the selection, his or her HR partner, and the communications, investor relations, and legal professionals who advise them. This “appointment team” must devise good answers to four fundamental questions: (1) What message is this appointment meant to convey? (2) Why is this person the right one for the job? (3) Which members of the organization need to be informed? (4) What should they be told and when? The first two questions are linked, and so are the second two, so we consider them in pairs.

When you made your last transition, how was the announcement handled?  How can you help increase the changes of success for those you appoint to more senior roles in the future?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a wonderful weekend.

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